Tribute by Gilroy Ezi Hall
OSWALD Wilkinson Larcher is one of the greatest humanitarians that I have known and is directly responsible for much of my development and success. “Wilkie was my mentor, co-worker, friend, advisor, biggest fan and sponsor in so many ways.”
Wilkie the Man
Charming, handsome, elegant, intelligent, humourous, caring and hardworking are but a few of the descriptors of this colossal being whose philosophy was simple…….live to better the lives of others. The ultimate family man he made time for his domestic responsibilities while never wavering from his passion……..helping others in all ways possible. Sharing his vast knowledge, offering advice, sponsoring those in need and sharing a good joke consumed his day and night and his business and other professional undertakings gained him much success largely due to his humility, bravery, human relation skills and wealth of knowledge.
Wilkie the Sports Administrator
I was a Form 4 Student at St. Mary’s College when I first played for the Lancers 1st Division Team which led to frequent conversations and encounters with Oswald Wilkinson Larcher. A few years later President Larcher came up with idea of a Saturday Morning Youth Sports Clinic targeting children ages 5 to 16 years. This simple idea grew into the largest sporting youth initiative on island with thousands benefiting over a 12- year span with an average attendance of 400 every summer. The coaches were all senior members of the various Lancers Teams representing Football, Basketball, Netball, Cricket, Track and Field, Volleyball and Tennis. Under Larcher’s stewardship the club also ventured into national competition in Darts and Dominoes.
Wilkie then became president of the Castries Football Council/Union and it was during his reign Castries became the dominant force in local football. A Castries representative team toured Miami as well as other Caribbean territories as Larcher was able to convince many corporate entities that there was value in investing in local football. His human relation skills came to the fore when he became President of the cash strapped and heavily indebted St Lucia Football Association. FIFA had stopped annual contributions to St Lucia amidst allegations of improper accountability procedures. The rest as they say is history.
Utilizing his personal funds, business connections and shrewd diplomatic prowess Wilkie secured an audience with FIFA Director Jack Warner in Trinidad and Tobago. Carrying a large 3ft by 4ft poster of the female teams which had been recently organised for local competition Larcher made a plea for restoration of funding outlining plans which were in the pipeline for the development of St Lucia Football.
One week later funding was restored and months later Jack Warner was in attendance at the ground breaking ceremony for the proposed GAOL PROJECT in Union. This facility would boast 2 playing fields, sleeping units, gymnasium, conference rooms and office space……a real home for football. The facility would have boasted concrete walls which would made available 25 advertising spaces to be rented. He had already received commitments for rental of half of these spaces when his dream for football was crushed as the government changed.
Larcher used $50,000.00 dollars of his personal funds to prepare the national team prior to the reinstatement of funding and was in the process of obtaining a vehicle for the SLFA as well as a field maintenance programme where private companies would bear the cost. We celebrated the completion of the refurbished boxing gym at the sab earlier this year but many are not aware that Mr Larcher had paid for plans to replace the original structure with a one storey community centre with office space and conference room at the top and gym and washroom facilities at the bottom. These plans were paid for by Mr Larcher in the late 1980’s.
There is so much more to be said but at this time I am unable to continue. Wilkie shaped the lives of so many like me and I truly hope that these revelations will inspire those responsible for sports to model their commitment and passion after Larcher.
I pause for a much needed aspirin………..
Wilkie…….Thank you from us all